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HS5306 The English Reformation and its Medieval Background

[This course is not running in the current academic year]

This course will make a concerted effort to look at, and evaluate, the Reformation, paying as much regard to what was going on before as what emerged in the long-term – ordinarily the longer-term perspective has proved far more dominant, to the detriment of a balanced perspective. Having briefly considered what was done in the 1530s and 1540s, the course will attempt to put these turbulent decades into their own long-term context by outlining the social and political conditions of the fifteenth century. Appropriate attention will be paid to the ‘major’ players of pre-Reformation institutional religion, looking in particular at the role of the monasteries and colleges, and also at parish religion. Individuals, both orthodox and heretical, will be studied, again to derive a better sense of context for the changes that were to come in the sixteenth century. Having prepared the ground, events such as the monastic and collegiate dissolutions, the Pilgrimage of Grace, and the mid Tudor rebellions will be appraised as part of an attempt to gauge the tenor of society in the mid and later sixteenth century, and the part that the Reformation had played in defining the prevailing atmosphere.

Introductory Reading:

Swanson, R., Church and Society in late Medieval England (Oxford, 1989).

Duffy, E., The Stripping of the Altars (New Haven and London, 2nd edn., 2005).

Haigh, C., English Reformations (Oxford, 1993).

Heath, P., Church and Realm (London, 1988).

Rex, R., The Lollards (Basingstoke, 2002).

Glasscoe, Marion, English Medieval Mystics: Games of Faith (London: Longman, 1993)

Clark, J., The Religious Orders in Pre-Reformation England, (Woodbridge, 2002).


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